Let’s be honest. Breastfeeding can be really difficult. It isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes the reality of it is that we’re not only crying over spilled milk, but over cracked, bleeding nipples too. Knowledge certainly is power and support is even more power. Sometimes breastfeeding works out without any obstacle in your way and in that case, you’re crying over the sweet bond and pure happiness. (Postpartum comes with lots of emotions, so I honestly cried a lot.) It wasn’t until my third baby that I felt I had experienced a successful breastfeeding journey.
When baby number one was born, I was young and kind of naive. I didn’t read up on breastfeeding or take a class. I didn’t know anyone close to me that had breastfed their baby so I didn’t have much of a support system in place. I thought breastfeeding was just something that we would naturally get. After all, wasn’t breastfeeding the most natural thing in the world? Looking back, I laugh at myself. I had no idea what the 6 weeks after giving birth would look like. Long story short, I was miserable. My nipples were sore, cracked, and bleeding. When my baby would cry needing to be nursed, I would cry because I didn’t want to nurse her. It was too painful. We were in a very miserable situation. After six weeks, I called it quits. I felt both relieved and regret. I felt that I had somehow failed her.
When I got pregnant with baby number 2, I felt like I was prepared for nursing her. After all, I had “been there, done that,” and wasn’t aware of other things that could wrong. I used nipple cream between every nursing session after she was born, trying to prevent cracked nipples. What’s that phrase; Make a plan and God laughs? Yeah- that happened. She was nursing like a champ. I was able to pump and give her bottles if I needed the break and everything was going well…. until it wasn’t. Again, this is where knowledge and support equal power. My tiny baby wasn’t gaining weight and she was projectile vomiting. And when I say projectile vomiting, I mean this was not the normal spit up from a baby- it felt something straight out of a horror movie! Looking back, we now know she had some sort of reflux and possibly a tie. Our nursing relationship ended at five and a half weeks. In my postpartum eyes, it was another “failed” attempt and I had failed yet another baby. I had such regret and was so upset that it threw my postpartum depression into a deep hole.
Before baby number three was even conceived, I started reading books and added myself to a few different support groups on Facebook. I discovered MommyCon and found my village. I longed for a “successful” nursing relationship. When he was born, I waited for things to go wrong. I waited for bleeding nipples; for a bad latch. I waited for his belly to be upset or for my breasts to not make enough milk. I hoped and prayed that they wouldn’t happen…. and they didn’t. I don’t know if it was because my knowledge was power or because I had a village behind me, rooting me on every step of the way. I don’t know if it was just to show me that really, every baby is different. Our nursing relationship was something that I enjoyed. I still felt the regret for not successfully nursing his sisters, but I also felt overjoyed that our journey was thriving. After 17 months of nursing, he self-weaned. It was something that I honestly wasn’t prepared for but I’m grateful that we lasted as long as we did.
Breastfeeding was difficult for me and it can be difficult for anyone. Even if you have the best lactation consultant in the world and all the resources at your finger tips, you may still experience hardships during your breastfeeding journey. I wish I would have asked for help with my first two babies but I will always be grateful for the third baby’s nursing relationship. It gave me peace from the previous “failed” experiences. What I want you to take from this is- you’re not alone. Ask for help.
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